Of Anne, Kilmeny, and Lanier’s Books

What imaginative girl has not been captivated by the works of Lucy Maud Montgomery? With a loving eye and a ready pen she gave to the world a tiny island off the coast of New Brunswick and a little band of girl heroines that have delighted the souls of ‘kindred spirits’ the world over. How much we owe her, we who cherish the beauty and romantic ideals of another day! Reading Anne of Green Gables at thirteen gave me my very first glimpse of how delightful it was to be different, of the glad freedom in being yourself and not everyone else. Lucy Maud Montgomery was the first of many authors to lead me through the realms of enchantment—and how happy to discover that the magic lay not in flamboyant plots and fanciful settings but in friendship, human love and the beauty of God’s creation.

“Lucy Maud Montgomery” on laniersbooks.com

graphic by: chantel brankshire

When asked who my favourite author is, many names leap into my mind, but at the forefront is always L. M. Montgomery.  Her beautiful prose is like poetry and no matter how many times I’ve read it, a happy sigh always accompanies finishing one of her books.

L. M. Montgomery is best known for her beloved Anne of Green Gables.  Anne and I met as young girls and a lifelong friendship was formed.  I’ve read all eight books in the series countless times and over the years Anne has accompanied me through my girlhood, into becoming a single young woman, then a blushing new bride, and then a mother of little ones.  Along the way I also met new friends, each dear in their own way.  Valancy and her beloved Blue Castle. Pat of Silver Bush (and later Mistress Pat). The Story Girl and her friends along The Golden Road.  Jane and her sweet Lantern Hill. And then there’s Kilmeny of the Orchard.

My first enthralling encounter with this lovely little book came washing over me at the opening sentence…‘The sunshine of a day in early spring, honey pale and honey sweet‘…and I felt like I had been reunited with a long-absent friend. I was well acquainted with Anne when I first met Kilmeny as a teenager, but the fascination of this enigmatic dark-haired maiden and the ardent young tutor who loved her hadn’t faded a bit. Some of Lucy Maud’s most tender passages and stirring depictions of the rural life so beloved by her readers are tucked away in this small gem of a novel. Indeed, it’s all I can do not to go and curl up on the porch swing with it at this very moment.

“Kilmeny of the Orchard” on laniersbooks.com

Low Door Press edition of Kilmeny of the OrchardOften overshadowed by Anne or Pat or Emily, Kilmeny is one of Montgomery’s lesser-known heroines (like Valancy or Jane…my favourites after Anne).  Her story is a short one, and she’s not mentioned in any of Montgomery’s other works.  But her story is full of such sweetness and beauty that it makes up for its brevity.  As always, Montgomery’s delightful descriptions make me feel transported to the lovely Prince Edward Island.  Her words always reawaken a yearning to visit that beautiful place, but they also help to soften the blow that it hasn’t come to pass yet.

The first several chapters of the book can leave you questioning how on earth the plot will end up in an orchard with a girl named Kilmeny, but it does happen.  And while Kilmeny’s story can seem rather unlikely, that doesn’t hamper the anticipation of wondering what will happen next.

Recently, dear Lanier at Lanier’s Books unveiled a project she had been working on…handbound copies of Kilmeny of the Orchard.  And they look absolutely beautiful.  Lanier shares:

 I selected this title for many reasons, chief of which being that I fell in love with it as an impressionable teenager, and I wanted to honor Montgomery herself and her influence on my life with an affectionately handcrafted edition of her second book.

“An Unveiling” on laniersbooks.com

Low Door Press edition of Kilmeny of the OrchardKilmeny’s story is one that can be enjoyed again and again by any lover of beauty.  Each reread brings its own sweetness and we’re reminded again of what an amazing thing love is.

Kilmeny’s love story was like a sweet fragrance wafted over the fields of the unlost past, and it sang a song to me as enthralling as one the heroine’s violin might have produced.

-Lanier Ivester, preface to Kilmeny of the Orchard

YLCF is thrilled to being giving away a $20 gift certificate to Lanier’s online Book Shop.  Lanier’s Books specializes in beautiful old books, hand-selected by Lanier herself.  All you need to do is visit the Book Shop and comment sharing what you would buy if you won.  (Giveaway ends March 30.  Congratulations to Tarissa — she’s commenter #9, selected by random.org as our winner!)

(All quotes from Lanier Ivester and laniersbooks.com used by permission.
Visit the Art House America Blog for more of the story of Lanier’s bookbinding venture.)


  1. Hmm…I’m torn between “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” or saving the gift certificate in case Lanier has more copies of “Kilmeny” in the future!

  2. Carmen Marie says:

    Oh, what a hard question! So many good titles to choose from!! Old books have so much more character, I think. I would have to choose a Gene Stratton-Porter book. The Harvester is most definitely my favorite but Michael O’Halloran & Freckles were so delightful too! I don’t own any of her books & would LOVE to finally have my very own! Thanks for hosting this giveway!

  3. I would buy either ‘Little Men’ or ‘Great Expectations’. I really do love old books, so I’m always on the hunt for something that has been printed, preferably, in the 1800s or earlier!

    I actually just got my ‘Sense and Sensibility’ book from Lanier’s Books. Thanks to YLCF for introducing me to the shop!

  4. After reading Lanier’s review on the book, I think I would get ‘When Knighthood was in Flower’ by Charles Major; sounded like a delightful read. Otherwise ‘Mary Barton’ or ‘Robin’, ‘St. Elmo’, ‘Gentian Hill’, ‘The Little Minister’, the Wordsworth, Maria Edgeworth, or one by Grace Livingston Hill. I’m with Shelbi, this is such a hard choice, I’d much rather buy them all! =) It’s thrilling just to look at all the titles! 😉

  5. I would buy any of the Miss Read or Elizabeth Goudge books, Music in The Hills by D.E. Stevenson, and/or John Keats, Milton, or Tennyson’s poetical works. If I could, I would simply buy Lanier’s inventory to spare such difficult decision making! 🙂

  6. Lydia Borengasser says:

    I would buy “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis.

  7. I would love to read something by Elizabeth Goudge…but i don’t know where to begin!
    i have tried to send e-mail to lanier’s books…but it leaves me a message…”failed to send”.
    i will keep trying.
    Thank you for such wonderful inspiration to read new authors i am not acquainted with.

  8. Too many good books to choose from! I think my top picks would be Under the Lilacs and Village Centenary. I love Lanier’s books!

    1. Guess what, Tarissa? Random.org selected commenter #9 as the winner…and that’s you!!

  9. Way too many good choices! I would probably settle on Silas Marner. 🙂

  10. “Ruth” by Elizabeth Gaskell – it’s the only Elizabeth Gaskell novel I haven’t read yet.

  11. I think I would buy “Pride and Prejudice”. Believe it or not, I’ve never read it.

  12. I would probably pick one of the Anne books, “Heidi” or “The Swiss Family Robinson.”

  13. Ruth Wiechmann says:

    Hmmm….. I am intrigued by the title “Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy…” I might need to add “Little Men” to my L M Alcott library…. Or replace my old, battered copy of “Heidi” that I have had since I was a girl… Or perhaps read “The Harvester” if it is as good as the other Gene Stratton Porter books I have read…. 🙂

  14. I would probably pick one of Lucy Maud Montegomery’s….not sure which! Or Jane Austen. Some of the most beautiful ones are 65 dollars and above, so I wouldn’t be able to have one of those, but one of the lower priced ones I would love dearly.

  15. I would buy Bleak House

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